Relational Practice and Neuroscience: The case for Therapeutic environments


Event Date

Location RCPsych 21 Prescot Street, London
CPD Up to 6 hours subject to peer group approval
Registration fee£120
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Relational Practice and Neuroscience: The case for Therapeutic environments

Event Information

To understand the impact of enabling environments and relational practice in complex emotional needs and trauma-informed work. To show the relationship between this, the relational field model and affective neuroscience.

The day is co-produced by STARS (Support, Training and Recovery System), a network of experts by experience who deliver training to mental health professionals.

View the programme(PDF)

Dr Sue Mizen – The interpersonal brain and innovative therapeutic environments

On the face of it the brains belong to individuals. It is hard to believe we can learn anything new about therapeutic environments through neuroscience. In fact we evolved to relate to and function in groups and are equipped with neural structures which ensure our social engagement. I will be talking about how neuroscience can help us to understand therapeutic environments in a new way. I will also discuss the potential to develop new applications of therapeutic environments for those who may not at present be able to use them either because of their high risk or complex presentations or because they do not appear socially oriented and so appear unable to engage.

Nick Benefield & Rex Haigh – The Relational Field Model, Relational Practice and Facilitating Environments

This presentation will provide a model within which relational practice and the need for facilitative environments can be understood. It brings together a range of professional and academic ideas that are too often seen as disconnected. The value of a comprehensive biopsychosocial model that demonstrates the inherent complexity of human development and the benefits of working relationally will be described. This model forms the basis for understanding how a facilitating environment can be established and maintained.

Examples of the applications in different sectors and settings will be described; possible future developments and actions will be proposed .

  • Dr Sue Mizen on Affective Neuroscience
  • Nick Benefield & Rex Haigh on Relational Field model
  • Dr Diana Menzies

Dr Sue Mizen is a Consultant Medical Psychotherapist and SAP Jungian Analyst. She trained at the Cassel Hospital in West London before becoming a Consultant at Charing Cross Hospital Fulham. She wrote the business case for and set up the Devon Partnership Trust Specialist Personality Disorder Service. She is developing a neuroscientific psychotherapeutic Relational Affective Model for teams working with people with severe and complex Personality Disorder. She is interested in the interface between neuroscience and psychoanalysis and is undertaking a PhD in Neuroscience. She was the Chair of the Medical Psychotherapy Faculty at the RCPsych from 2014 to 2018 and is Chair of the Talking Therapies Task Force.

Dr Diana Menzies is a Medical Psychotherapist and Group Analyst who has worked in the NHS for 30 years, most of that in SW London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. She became inspired by the potential for therapeutic communities to change the lives of people when she spent 6 months at Henderson Hospital in her early years in psychiatry. She returned there as a consultant for 12 years, mainly in the outreach team, until its final closure in 2010. She then worked with the same patient group in an outpatient setting using MBT. She currently facilitates a number of reflective practice groups for multidisciplinary teams on forensic and other specialist wards where the aim is to support the staff in thinking about their relationships with patients, and what might be influencing these. She was involved in the Community of Communities, the Royal College of Psychiatrists Centre for Quality Improvement for therapeutic communities, for many years, was Chair of their Reference Group and on the Advisory Group, and Chair of ATC R&D group. She has co-edited a book, A Culture of Enquiry: Research Evidence and the Therapeutic Community, (2004) with Jan Lees, Nick Manning and Nicola Morant, JKP, and published several papers.

Rex Haigh

Is an NHS medical psychotherapist who studied social sciences and then trained and worked as a GP before moving to psychiatry, psychotherapy and group analysis. He has been a consultant in Berkshire since 1994, was Clinical Advisor to the English Personality Disorder Development Programme (2002-11) and part of the NICE guideline development group (2007-9) for Borderline Personality Disorder. At the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he was the founder of ‘Community of Communities’ quality network (2002) and the ‘Enabling Environments’ award (2009). He was appointed Honorary Professor of Therapeutic Environments at Nottingham University’s School of Sociology and Social Policy (2016) and is involved with several third sector mental health organisations. His clinical interests are modified therapeutic communities, ecotherapy, and service user co-production.

Nick Benefield

Nick was Department of Health Lead for Personality Disorder and as Joint Head of the NHS/NOMS Offender Personality Disorder Team. He trained in social work and as a Jungian Analyst and he has a background in the therapeutic treatment of young offenders, inner-city community social group work and community mental health services. He has worked as a clinician, trainer, manager, commissioner and policy maker and has an ongoing interest in the development of psycho social environments and relational practice in the criminal justice and wider social and educational settings. His major interest is the improvement in collaborative working and the closer integration of a wider range of professional roles and operational tasks in public sector services.

Group Facilitators

Dr Jale Cilasun is a Consultant Psychiatrist, specialist in Medical Psychotherapy, formerly Clinical Director of Wandsworth Complex Needs Service at South West London and St. George’s NHS Trust (1992-2018). She is currently in private practice. She qualified as a group analyst at IGA, London, in 2000. She is particularly interested in median and large groups and their uses in therapeutic, training and contemplative settings. She has been incorporating mindfulness practice into her work.

Chris Newrith is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

After qualifying at St Andrews and Manchester Medical Schools, Chris initially started training as a GP in Wiltshire. However, he enjoyed the psychiatry component of the GP training so much that he chose to specialise as a psychiatrist.

Chris trained as a psychiatrist in Oxford and developed an interest in Personality Disorder while a junior doctor as a result of his exposure to the problems of this population. Chris stayed on the Oxford Rotation to specialise as a medical psychotherapist.

On being appointed as a consultant, Chris initially worked in the Birmingham Personality Disorder Service but left in 2006 to take up a post in Oxford Health as Programme Director of the Buckinghamshire Complex Needs Service.

With the reorganisation of the Complex Needs Service in 2016, Chris has changed to part-time work. He has particular interests in understanding the internal world of borderline patients, and in post-graduate medical training; he is also developing an interest in the mental health problems of NHS practitioners. He is currently Training Programme Director for Medical Psychotherapy in the School of Psychiatry.

£120 for all delegate types

For further information, please contact:


Contact Name: Molly Baker

Contact number: 0203 701 2739

Event Location

Location: RCPsych 21 Prescot Street, London